So what’s your Point?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Back in Engineering, a bunch of us close friends had the habit of asking ‘so what’s your point?‘, usually when one of us was sharing details about some important or serious incident with the rest. For instance, say a relatively shy friend was explaining about how he struck a conversation with a girl he had a crush on. So he’d explain the tiniest of details about what was going on in his mind, how nervous he was, how she reacted, what she said, blah, blah, the works. And while he couldn’t possibly get any more serious, we’d wait patiently for him to finish, and then with a real blank face, one of us would ask him ‘so, what’s your point?’

Those words would instantly leave him flabbergasted, and it would take a moment before he’d recover and retaliate with a barrage of expletives. And then we’d all burst out laughing. It was one of those brotherhood things. Am sure a lot of you have done something similar more than once in your life.

Anyway, it’s been almost a decade since, but I recently remembered the phrase. And the importance or the meaning of it suddenly struck, or connected.

When we communicate, especially at work (via emails, face-to-face, on call) with clients, prospective clients, industry colleagues, etc. , we sometimes just talk and lose perspective or the purpose/ objective of a discussion. More so if we’re marketing a product or a viewpoint, or are desperate to prove a point.

That’s when I feel it is important for us to ask ourselves, ‘so what’s your point?‘. The question needs to be answered keeping both our perspective, as well as the target’s point-of-view in mind.

Essentially, what that boils down to is, we start writing more concise, orderly and clear emails rather than taking the sheep grazing, because while writing, we are double checking whether what we’re typing will make logical sense from the receiver’s point-of-view or not. We also tend to bring back into focus, the purpose or objective of a business pitch, a political or religious debate with colleagues or friends, or anything conversation or discussion for that matter. That way, if winning or losing a discussion/ argument is relatively pointless  (when you get “nothing” as the answer to your ‘what’s your point?’), then it makes sense to just drop the topic and move on, instead of just getting lost in the heat of the situation and just punching away blindly.

This thought was aptly put across as back in time as 1657, by Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher, when he said, “I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”

In our current times, with shrinking attention spans, I believe ‘impactful brevity’, in thought, word and online text is gaining significant importance. That being said, I believe this  simple question might help us get there faster.

WhatsYourPoint

Compromise? Don’t!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Compromise? Don’t!

Several foreign countries have been following the professional hire-n-fire policy for several years if not decades, now. We Indians on the other hand, still go strong on references and the ‘chalta hain’ (a Hindi phrase meaning ‘it’s alright, no big deal’), ‘adjust maadi’ (maadi is a Kannada word meaning ‘to do’, in this case, asking someone to adjust) and ‘ki farak paenda’ (a popular Hindi phrase meaning ‘what difference will it make’) attitude.

Do you think Infosys would have been what it is if they fed their ever-increasing hunger for talented workforce with just about any relative, friend or a friend of a friend? Sure they would’ve filled seats in a jiffy, but I strongly doubt Infy would’ve made it even half as far.

I remember some elders telling me years ago, that it’s all about networking, all about the contacts you have, etc. And sure it worked brilliantly when I was watching the Godfather movie. All the ‘offer you can’t refuse’ and ‘I will call upon you to do me a service in return’; but it doesn’t seem to have a very good effect in the corporate world. If favours are done or asked for in any manner that’s less than at what they call ‘arms’ length’, it is, without doubt, going to compromise on something.

Close friends don’t feel uncomfortable in declining requests if they have reasons to. And they feel comfortable in expressing the inability to do so, and it doesn’t in any way, affect the friendship either.

But in our rat race, we have really gotten programmed with the whole ‘doing a favor, asking a favor’ routine. So much so, it is second nature. Often at the cost of compromising on something else. Ki farak paenda after all, aye..?

And don’t you feel its way beyond time that we Indians graduated from call centre jobs? Even if we were considered good at being the ‘back end’ to the world (no pun intended). I ask you now – can you think of any one company, where you’d feel genuinely satisfied with the level of service, were you to call their helpline? Hell, even I’ve worked with a call centre, years ago, so I know what I’m talking about. And believe me, in the past few years, interacting with call centres of the likes of biggies like Vodafone, I can genuinely relate to the frustration and helplessness that foreigners may have felt over the years, when we’ve struggled to ‘resolve an issue’ for them.

And while I still have some hilarious memories from work at the time. For instance, the general process was flawed then, and it is flawed now. So after almost a decade of BPOs, the least we could have done is worked on and simplified the process? Made more sensible options on the IVR? Or made agents more efficient at what they do? Perhaps taught them to ’empathize’ with customers rather than doing a mindless line-by-line delivery of a script? And finally, if it isn’t too much trouble, ensure that the ‘issue’ was resolved? But I guess ‘woh bhi chalta hain yaar’.

So put a bunch of ‘chalta hain’ attitude people in a company, and what do you get? Then put a bunch of companies with a large number of ‘chalta hain’ attitude employees in them together, and what do you get? And while we’re at that, what if we have a nation with several such companies, then what do we get?

What I’m guessing is, a strong probable cause for the next slowdown, where there is a strong possibility that India would play host, because employees and organizations compromised on several little things, and just drifted along, till a point where, just like the gig at the CWG, products, services and efforts start collapsing in front of bigger audiences.

Compromise then, just became a real dangerous word for me right now, something representing slow degradation. How about for you?

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